Line-up included


  • Bernard Pinchin – Vocals
  • John Weston – Lead Guitar, Vocals
  • John McGuinness – Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
  • Geoff Phillips – Bass
  • Mike Walsh – Drums
  • John Cheetham - Drums
  • Lou Rosenthal - Drums

In 1971, I was looking for a new band to join, and answered an ad for a band in Warrington that was looking for a bass player. After my audition at Grappenhall Youth Club, I was offered the job. The band consisted of guitarists John Weston (ex-Fairytale and Mighty Joe Young) and his brother-in-law John McGuinness. On drums was Mike Walsh. The singer was Bernard Pinchin, a former Black Abbot, occasionally known as 'Ard Nard.

They performed a selection of good tunes and the vocal harmonies were a strong point of the band. Bernard had a gravelly sort of voice, suited to the Joe Cocker type of stuff, and Weston had a high falsetto pitch. Indeed, if he'd been in the right place at the right time, he could have easily replaced Graham Nash in the Hollies, such was his vocal and songwriting ability.

McGuinness was a good rhythm player, with excellent harmony vocals and a cute stage presence that ensured plenty of female attention. Mike Walsh was a powerhouse drummer who got some amazing rhythms from his old Rogers kit.

The band were managed by Tom Hankey, who got the gigs for the band.

John Weston had made some good contacts in London whilst in his former band Fairytale. One of these was Ian McGowan who was a kind of down-at-heel journalist who was a popular and trustworthy guy who had friends in high places. He was of no fixed abode and lived out of a suitcase whilst house-sitting for various celebrities while they were away from home.

A couple of months after joining the band, Weston had arranged a meeting with record producer Tony Hall in London, who had previously recorded Fairytale.

Ian McGowan was staying at an address owned by Cliff Richard and it was arranged that we stay the weekend at Batailles, a sprawling mansion in Great Dunmow, Essex. Although Cliff wasn't there, I did see his Gibson J200 guitar under the stairs. The house was set up as a retreat for showbiz people to escape the pressures of stardom and to mix with like-minded thespians. It was run by Reverend Jack Filby and his wife Pauline. We arrived on the Friday night and were made very welcome. We were told of the whereabouts of the local pub and whilst in there, couldn't resist telling the local ladies that we were staying at Cliff's pad down the road.

When we returned to Batailles it soon dawned upon us that Cliff must have had a network of people protecting his reputation. The pub landlord had phoned Reverend Jack to find out who these northern oiks were who were bragging about staying at Cliff's. Jack was not amused. That was Gaffe number1!

Pauline Filby pointed out that if we were going to see Tony Hall the producer and ex-Radio Luxembourg DJ, we'd better have a demo tape. She recommended Highbury Studios in London as a cheap and cheerful place to go, so we secured a last-minute booking for a session with engineer Curly Clayton. It turns out the Rolling Stones did their first recordings there. We left with a tape of three of Weston's more commercial classics and a roll of Curly's sellotape.

On the Saturday night we set all our gear up in the lounge at Batailles and performed for the guests. They were very impressed as they sat on bean bags and listened to us. We made friends with the rest of the guests including the actor Nigel Goodwin who invited us to stay with him any time we were in London.

On the Sunday morning, Rev Jack had gone to the church to perform his service while his wife prepared Sunday lunch for all the guests. Upon his return we all filed into the dining room and sat around a long table while Pauline brought in all the food. She said "Get stuck in lads." As we had eaten very little over the past two days, we heaped our plates with as much grub as possible and started tucking in. It was then that Rev Jack said "It looks as though some of us want to start, so now we'll say grace." We all nearly choked on our spuds with embarrassment. Gaffe number 2.

On the Monday we bade farewell to the Filbys and headed down the long gravel path at Batailles on our way to our London meeting with A&R man and ex-Radio Luxembourg DJ Tony Hall. We played him the demo tape we'd recorded at Curly Clayton's which he was he wasn’t too impressed with as he was looking for acts in the James Taylor/ Neil Young acoustic soft rock style which was becoming popular at that time. Hall took a shine to Bernard and took a very long time gazing into his eyes and shaking his hand while saying "You've got a fabulous image Bernie." I think it was Bernard’s dayglo chartreuse Crimplene trousers that attracted him.

Tom Hankey remarked to Hall that he thought Bernard had an even better voice than Joe Cocker, to which Hall replied "I discovered Joe Cocker" Gaffe number 3

Weston played Hall some of his more introspective songs on an acoustic guitar which were inspired by his love of all things Tolkien, which were well received and Hall invited him to record some demos of them the following day at a studio on Oxford Street.

It became apparent that we needed somewhere to stay in London that night so, remembering Nigel Goodwin's kind offer, we turned up at his posh London house.

He took us in, although I don't think he expected to see us again quite so soon.

It turned out that he never used to work on a Monday and that it was him and his wife's "nooky night". As we seem to have put paid to that, we stayed up talking about religion until dawn.

The sessions for Tony Hall didn't bear fruit, and the band returned to the North West.

Mike Walsh left the band shortly afterwards due to family commitments so we had to find someone to replace him. A hard task as he was a great drummer.

The obligatory ad in the Manchester Evening News produced the usual selection of deadlegs and nutters but two likely candidates were invited to audition.

Enter John Cheetham, a great pro drummer with a beautiful silver Hayman kit. After we'd done one gig with him, he handed in his resignation. However, his short stay with Barnaby Rudge had a profound effect on their future.

Fortunately, the runner-up in the auditions, Lou Rosenthal from Billinge was still available. He was also a great drummer, and an affable chap with a great sense of humour, so we offered him the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join the band.

Manager Tom Hankey had fallen by the wayside after the trip to London but John Cheetham knew an organisation who were on the lookout for a suitable band to manage.

Sherwood promotions was a company in Manchester's Back Piccadilly who provided promotion girls for shops, clubs, events etc and had a huge roster of Sherwood "Happygirls"

The lady assigned to look after the band was Eleanor Stokoe, a pushy, glamorous brunette who maintained that you could blag your way in anywhere if you did it with "a bit of Swish"

After our initial meeting with Stokoe at Happygirls HQ in central Manchester we were given a goody bag of some of the products they were promoting at the time, one of which was “male intimate deodorant spray” which had just been released on the market.

Stokoe’s powers of persuasion started to open doors for us and before we knew it, she had secured us a spot at Stockport’s rather posh Bredbury Hall. Shortly after that, we found ourselves at the Talk of the North, supporting Freddie Starr which was an experience in itself.

Next thing we knew, we had landed a Monday night residency at the Explosion club on High Street, Manchester. Mondays were usually quiet in there apart from the usual lonely-looking people who always seemed to be clutching carrier bags, the odd Coronation Street character and hardcore clubbers who still went out on Monday nights. We also attracted a regular clientele of nurses from Northern hospital who were glad of a night out after working weekend shifts. One night we were graced with the presence of the Supremes who had been appearing in Manchester. Bernard had a dance with Mary Wilson but she didn’t seem enamoured by his charms. However, The Supremes were very complimentary about our version of One More Chance by the Jackson 5. I think the fish market part of the Arndale stands on that spot now.

By now, the band had recruited roadie Mike Butler, previously with The Blend, a band my previous outfit Tangerine had poached members from.

Meanwhile, our friend Ian McGowan was now running the North American Student Centre in Amsterdam which sounds grand but was in fact a youth hostel just off Damrak. News came through that Ian was arranging for us a six-week tour of Holland and Germany for February 1972. We all took unpaid leave from our day jobs, loaded up the Transit and set off in pursuit of European fame and fortune. We arrived at McGowan’s place only to find out that the first gig he had secured for us was not for two weeks. He had though, found us a rehearsal studio in a disused nightclub in the Vondelpark, underneath a tramline, where we worked on some of John Weston’s compositions and honed our act ready for our first gig which was at Amsterdam’s hippie mecca, the Paradiso.

We set about trying to find some gigs to tide us over, which involved some door-to-door canvassing around Amsterdam’s nightspots but to no avail. We went into a studio to record some of Weston’s more serious songs and arranged a meeting with the Europop agency. They had a listen and asked if we had any more poppy material. If we had taken the tapes which we had recorded at Curly Clayton’s in London which were deemed too commercial, they may have been able to help us.

Miraculously, our loaded van had been parked outside the main post office in the centre of Amsterdam for most of three weeks and was never robbed, towed away or issued with any parking tickets.

The gigs which we did do were very successful but we were faced with the choice of staying in Holland in bitterly cold weather with barely enough money for a daily dose of “Patats met Mayonnaise,” or moving on to Germany to see if we could find any work there, or throwing in the towel and returning to Blighty.

The final option was the one we took. John W was getting more homesick by the day and starvation, sub-zero temperatures and disillusionment were factors for the rest of us in our decision to return home.

Inevitably, John announced his resignation from the band, which was timely because there weren’t many gigs in the diary. Any gigs left in the diary were done with my brother Alan filling in. The remaining band members had a meeting to decide the future. Bernard and Roadie Mike announced they were getting their own thing together and taking over the payments on the jointly owned van. Bernard had done an audition with Satanic rockers Black Widow but was unsuccessful. The three other members decided that as we were all geographically separated (Warrington, Billinge and Urmston) it would be impractical to carry on.

I continue playing with all sorts of Blues, Rock;Roll. Country, and Western Swing outfits.

John McGuinness went on to play with Warrington band Spindizzy

Lou Rosenthal has enjoyed a long career in music with many Liverpool bands including rockers Export and, has been drummer with the Merseybeats for many years

Gigs I remember us doing

Cheshire Cat, Nantwich

The first appearance of Lou’s lurid psychedelic orange Ludwig kit

Blue Rooms, Sale

John Cheetham’s first and last gig with us

Explosion Club, Manchester

Our residency

Pennine Ski Lodge, Greenfield

Jenks, Blackpool

Paradiso, Amsterdam NL

One of the high spots of my long career

Electric Centre, Haarlem NL

Another hippie stronghold

Oak Youth Centre, Haarlem NL

Sunday afternoon gig. Very appreciative audience

PEN Club, Ijmuiden NL

Proper concert venue in a disused power station

Prize Cinema, Gretna Green

We arrived while they were still showing a Carry On film. The dressing room was backstage so we had to climb on stage past a ten-foot-high projection of Sid James &Co to get to it.

After the film had finished, they unscrewed the seats to reveal a sloping dance floor. Met some girls who worked at the local Pearce Duff’s jelly factory. Came out to a blizzard and Roadie Mike had to drive us home at a snail’s pace. Got home at 7 in the morning

Public Hall, Barrow

Look under my previous band Tangerine for my account of this place

Seven Stars, Heywood

I used to go here as a punter because it was such a great place with a very friendly atmosphere, and it had always been my ambition to play here. Ended up doing Christmas Eve and Christmas day night. Fantastic!

Sedgeley Park College, Prestwich

Supported a great heavy rock band Scapa Flow

Dirty Duck, Crewe

Bredbury Hall, Stockport

Talk of the North, Eccles

Shared the bill with Freddy Starr

Cumberland Club, Liverpool

Longfield suite, Prestwich

Shared the bill with The Kibbos, who became Rainbow Cottage. Each member was left-handed

Time & Place, Manchester

Manchester’s poshest nightclub at the time. An afternoon show for underprivileged children organised by manager Eleanor Stokoe. The DJ was Radio Luxembourg’s Tony Prince and a bevy of Sherwood Happygirls were on hand to look after the kids. All the kids wanted to be on stage with us so we selected the most obnoxious one and put him in charge of keeping all the other kids off the stage. Success!

Songs we used to do 

  • Every Little Thing
  • You Can’t do That
  • Meet on the Ledge
  • Space Captain
  • You can't do that
  • Make me Smile
  • Fresh Garbage
  • Look Through any Window
  • Have you ever seen the Rain?
  • Coz I luv you
  • Gasoline Alley Bred
  • Stay with me
  • One More Chance
  • Proud Mary
  • The Letter
  • Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’
  • Robin
  • Hello Baby
  • One Love

Comments powered by CComment